Spokane County prosecutor's wife identifies as white nationalist, calls journalist slur

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Image courtesy of Facebook
Image courtesy of Facebook

Reports of the Spokane County prosecutor's wife openly declaring herself to be a "proud white nationalist" and posting a racial slur online have sparked outrage across Washington state.

Lesley Ann Haskell, wife of Spokane County Prosecutor Larry Haskell, directed the N-word at MSNBC host Joy Reid last week, calling Reid "the the true definition of the word."

Haskell's comment went uncensored on the social media network Gab, which is similar to Facebook or Twitter, but with no community guidelines. According to its website, the social network "champions free speech, individual liberty, and the free flow of information online."

Haskell is a verified user on the app, so the platform has confirmed it did not come from an impersonator. This status also makes her profile appear more important to other users.

"My husband is the Spo Co Prosecutor and he's the last line of conservative armor that the County has. Spokane has gone to shit," reads a post on her page.

Haskell was responding to a New York Post story with the title, "MSNBC's Joy Reid: Conservatives would trade tax cuts to 'openly say the N-word.'" Haskell explicitly directed her words at the news host in response.

Her Facebook profile has apparently been deactivated since the story began to circulate last Thursday.

As reported by the Spokane Inlander, this is not the first time Haskell has been openly racist or hateful online. Her online rhetoric has been reported on several times since 2015, when her husband was first elected. One comment read simply, "I do not trust Muzlims."

Since then, as a deep dive into her social media confirms, she has kept an active presence online spreading hate speech over the years, including homophobic and transphobic remarks.

In a statement to the Inlander back in 2015, Prosecutor-elect Haskell defended his wife's right to express her own views, saying, "She is a strong, independent, and conservative woman. As many others do here in Spokane, she frequently expresses those personal opinions in dialogues in online forums."

In a statement on the Spokane County Prosecutor's Office website, Larry Haskell responded to the latest Inlander reporting. "I want to strongly reassure everyone that what was expressed in the Inlander, as my wife's comments, are not my views nor the views of the prosecutor's office — nor should they ever be," he said. "I do not and will not tolerate racial bias or discrimination in any form. People that know me fully understand those are not my views."

Haskell's position as Spokane County prosecutor places him in charge of criminal sentencing, and he is meant to serve impartially. However, his wife's latest hate speech may have real consequences for the prosecutor.

The well-known progressive group Occupy Democrats focused on the incident on Twitter, asking its followers to retweet the post if they thought "her husband must be removed from his position as a prosecutor." There are about 9,000 retweets as of Tuesday.

Lesley Haskell's comments could affect her husband's work in the courtroom too, whether from defense attorneys or his own unconscious bias.

Larry Haskell is seeking re-election at the end of his second four-year term later this year.